Where’s the Protein?

Ever since  the advent of plant-based diets, one of the first questions that may come to mind is “how do I get enough protein in my diet?” The following post discusses some protein basics and provides an interesting article on some sources you may not have thought of.

Nearly all people in the United States get enough protein in a balanced macro-nutrient diet each day.  The average intake of protein by adults is 98 grams/day, about twice the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) which is for men (56 grams) and for women (46 grams).

The ability of proteins to support tissue construction in the body varies depending on their content of essential amino acids (must be provided by the diet, we cannot make them). Proteins of high quality contain all nine of the essential amino acids and are called complete proteins and include all animal proteins (meat, milk, eggs, and milk products (dairy) and soy (for adults). Incomplete proteins are deficient in one or more amino acids and include plant sources such as seeds, beans, nuts, grains. Fruits do not contain any significant amounts of protein.

You can obtain all the essential amino acids by practicing protein complementation which is the process of combining proteins from different sources so that collectively they provide the proportions of amino acids required to meet the body’s needs. For example, beans combined with rice become together a complete protein by providing all nine of the amino acids.

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Blue Zones Cities USA

Dan Buettner’s groundbreaking ambitious Blue Zone project is beginning to transform American cities into Blue Zone cities  and has so far helped thousands of people lose weight, reverse disease, and increase life satisfaction by changing in part the way they eat, live, and connect.

The original Blue Zones areas helped shape these transformations. Practically speaking, Americans cannot be expected to eat the same foods as the Blue Zone inhabitants did. That would be impossible in the U.S. food environment. However, lots of lessons can be learned from their way of life that led them to longevity and health in their older years than anyone could have imagined. Get a brief glimpse of how one city (Ft. Worth, TX) transformed themselves into better health outcomes. Small changes can make a difference over time.

 

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How to Like Vegetables?

 

Americans need all the help they can get in eating more vegetables (nutrient dense, low in calories, loaded with fiber).  If you have children, It’s even more important  My personal advice?

Roast them – they caramelize and take on a whole new flavor and texture. Add a little honey and/or butter for more appeal. And it’s so easy on a foil-lined baking pan. Easy clean-up, too. – yes it can be done.

Enjoy the advice and bon appetit.

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Portion Distortion: Then and Now?

Portions are out of control in the Standard American Diet. Do you know how much food you ate yesterday? If you had meat what size of serving of meat? Whatever happened to the single burger?  Few people are aware of how much food they eat. Portion sizes of today’s food tends to exceed standard serving sizes due to our past experiences at family meals, the size of servings at restaurants, supersize meals, large bakery products and larger cups of soft drinks all contribute to the problem.

Typical portion sizes and calorie content of foods in the marketplace versus calorie content and portion sizes 25 years ago.

Food Portion size

Calories 25 years ago

Marketplace portion sizes

Calories now

Bagel 3- inch diameter, 140 calories 6 -inch diameter. 350 calories
Cheeseburger 4.3 ounces, 343 calories 7.1 ounces, 535 calories
French fries  2.4 ounces, 210 calories 6.9 ounces, 610 calories
Soft drink 6.5 ounces, 85 calories 20 ounces, 820 calories
Muffin 1.5 ounce, 167 calories 6.5 ounce, 724 calories

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How To Cook?

We are becoming a nation of microwave cooks. Just pop a fully cooked meal into the microwave and we can have  dinner in just 5 minutes. But wait – the finished product often does not resemble the picture on the box and/or the taste resembles the dinner you had last night – only the pasta shape has changed.  Sometimes I think they use the same sauce of some kind and just alter the name of the dish slightly.

Now days it is a well known fact that the family is busier with jobs and activities outside the house and the term “housewife” has actually disappeared into oblivion. Home economics is not taught in schools as it was a few decades ago, and convenience reigns as the most important marketing ploy when it comes to food preparation. Our kids have no idea where the food comes from unless it comes in a box or wrapped in plastic. We know the Nutrition Facts (calories, etc) but the list of ingredients takes up more room than it should and reads like a foreign language.

The following article presents some easy creative ideas that may help make a cooking experience easier and more appealing and even flavorful. Try them – you may become your own gourmet chef without much effort. Just in time for Christmas Dinner?

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Nutrition Myths

It is time to put to rest some nutrition misinformation that has dominated the media for a number of years now. Here is the nonsense and the sense of some of the most prevalent myths – it’s time to move away from them.

Gluten -Free Foods are Healthier. Unless you are truly sensitive to gluten or have been diagnosed with celiac disease,  you may miss out on some healthy whole grains if you choose gluten-free foods.

You only need to limit salt intake if you have high blood pressure. 90% of us will develop high blood pressure and some of us are sodium sensitive. We get plenty of sodium in processed foods and should try to limit our total intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams a day.

Sugar is toxic. There is no evidence that shows that sugar causes disease on its own. However, a high sugar intake can replace the healthier habits of  learning that carbohydrate intake can be healthier if we consume more complex carbs (fruits, whole grains, vegetables) and less highly refined  carbs (sugary drinks and foods with added sugars).

Fresh Produce is healthier than canned or frozen.  Foods which are picked fresh and immediately canned or  frozen may even have more nutrients than fresh produce. In fact, your body more easily absorbs nutrients like lycopene when they’ve gone through the canning process.

The term “natural” means healthier. The term natural on a food label has no FDA defintion, so it has no meaning in terms of health or that it is “organic.”

Farm-raised fish isn’t healthy. Today’s farm-raised fish has just as much and maybe more healthier omega-3 fats than wild-caught. Also farm-raised fish may have less mercury. They are now more sustainable and when from reputable farms can be raised with fewer antibiotics and no added coloration.

Margarine is loaded with unhealthy trans fats. This depends on whether the margarine is in stick form or tub form. A better choice is the softer tub margarine that is less hydrogenated and thus has less trans fat than the more saturated and trans fat content found in the stick form.

Source: Environmental Nutrition.

For more myths:

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